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Statuette in an openwork box (Detail, box)

Statuette in an openwork box (Detail, box)
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Detail, statuette

Detail, statuette

Detail, box

Detail, box

Detail, box

Detail, box

Detail, box

Secular. Memento mori.

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Cologne, Museum Schnütgen

Inv. B 160

Ivory;ebony;metal (hinges)

Height: 120mm
Width: 420mm
Depth: 150mm (box)

Decaying skeleton (Death), with the skin and muscles pulled back to reveal the internal organs; animals (vermin, worms, lizards, toads, fly, snakes, etc.).
Coffin with 6 figures under arches:
Standing king. Standing hooded monk holding a scroll with inscription 'MORIR NOVS FAVT'. Standing man with pointed hat holding a blank scroll. Standing man debating. Standing youth with a hawk on his wrist; scroll with inscription 'QVANT DIEV PLAY'. Standing man wearing a turban.
Foliated decoration in the spandrels; twisted columns.

Koechlin Number: 1247

Koechlin 1924: Flanders or Northern France, early 16th century.
Cologne 2006: Western Switzerland, c. 1520.


Two hinges.

The wooden bottom of the box has several inscriptions, in different hands: 'aus Sammlung Vinzent Constantz'; 'St. Victor: Genève'.

Object Condition
The slotted baseboard is new.

Collection of O. Wessner, Saint-Gall, Switzerland (in 1924). Collection of Vinzent Constantz (see inscription on the bottom of the box). Collection of Peter and Irene Ludwig, Aachen: on permanent loan to the Museum from 1963 to 2011; donated to the museum in 2011.

R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, p. 456; II, no. 1247.
Das Museum Schnütgen. Eine Auswahl. Dem Andenken an Fritz Witte, Direktor des Schnütgen Museums 1910-1937, ed. by H. Schnitzler (Cologne, 1968), no. 180, pp. 103-104.
Kunst und Kultur um 1492, dir. by R. Rispa, exhibition catalogue, Seville, Universal Exposition, 1992, no. 121, p. 204.
Himmel, Hölle, Fegefeuer: das Jenseits im Mittelalter, dir. by P. Jezler, exhibition catalogue, Zürich, Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, 1994, p. 181, no. 11.
Vergänglichkeit für die Westentasche: Miniatursärge und Betrachtungssärglein
U. Neurath-Sippel, J. Schuchard, R. Sörries, exhibition catalogue, Kassel, Museum für Sepulkralkultur, 25 March-29 May 2005, pp. 13 and 38.
S. Oosterwijk, 'Food for worms-food for thought: appearance and interpretation of the "verminous" cadaver in Britain and Europe', in Church Monuments XX (2005), p. 80.
Zum Sterben schön! Alter, Totentanz und Sterbekunst von 1500 bis heute, ed. by A. von Hülsen-Esch and H. Westermann-Angerhausen, exhibition catalogue, Cologne, Schnütgen Museum, 2006, no. 15.


Foto: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln.

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